Police Minister Bheki Cele, who visited the area north of Johannesburg, urged residents to share the names of the suspects involved in a vigilante group. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA)
Police Minister Bheki Cele, who visited the area north of Johannesburg, urged residents to share the names of the suspects involved in a vigilante group. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA)

Cele warns Zandspruit leaders as mob justice death toll rises to eight

By Ntombi Nkosi Time of article published May 22, 2021

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Johannesburg - Police Minister Bheki Cele has cast the spotlight on the leadership of the Zandspruit informal settlement following a mob justice attack this week.

By Saturday, eight people had died from the attack.

Cele, who visited the area north of Johannesburg, urged residents to engage police and share the names of the suspects involved in a vigilante group.

Cele promised to deploy the Tactical Response Team to combat crime in the area. He also vowed that he, together with human settlements, social development, small business, community safety and other departments, will compile a report on how they can help the community going forward after witnessing a number of social challenges in the area, including drugs.

Cele talked about policing issues after allegations that some officers had stepped aside, allowing the attack to take place.

A group of nine young men were taken to a local sports ground and were beaten up by angry residents, who accused them of a spate of crimes and terrorising the community.

“The elected community leaders must come out so we can solve this issue. Heads must roll. If it means we have to arrest the so-called leadership or half the community members, we will. We are going to make more arrests, that I assure you,” Cele said.

Cele said some people who claim to be leaders are the main cause of trouble.

“There is a woman here, she stood up and furnished me with information; had I not been a man, I would have been in tears, the pain that happened in the killing of these children.

’’She had tried almost 10 times to report to whoever she sought help from, including the police, community leadership, but no one helped her.

“How can you be a leader that is not helpful. We know what to do with the police, but what do we do with incompetent leadership,” asked Cele.

Community members shouted that the current leaders must go.

“We know the police who came to the area, some allegedly said bad things like, ’finish up, then call us when you are done’. We are looking for those police.

“There are names of famous people that came up; one of them was Dube. Police you must find Dube and arrest him; community members reveal Dube’s whereabouts.

’’Six people were arrested in connection with this. What puzzles me is that two of them are from North West, another one comes from Eastern Cape, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, what made them to be a national crime. They left their provinces to be criminals here; they are calling themselves leaders, who elected them,” he said.

Cele told the community that many of them know those who participated in the attacks. They said those are not leaders but criminals.

“If they were seriously combating crime, they should have taken the children to the police. No one has a right to take the law into their own hands.

“There is no thing called mob justice, stop it. These are vigilantes, this is criminality. No matter what the children did, laws should have been followed.

’’Now that you have killed them, we are coming; we will kick doors and arrest the killers. Do not try to stop us,” he said.

The community were elated when Cele said police, even those that are not from the area, would come to their area.

“On behalf of the president and police, I want to apologise on behalf of the police who allowed this sinister thing that led to the killing of the children (to happen). Apologising is only the beginning. These police do not belong in this organisation,” said Cele.

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